How a Pause Can Help

how a pause can help those with adhd

Life moving too fast? Stuff happening all around and you are feeling out of control?  Ready to hit reset?  There’s a lot of power in a pause. A pause is a simple time out and a break in the action.

 

The Power of the Pause

In a recent Houston Chronicle article, author Marci Sharp talked about “Pausing gives us the opportunity to choose how we want to show up, to stay present and connected, and it’s reliably settling.”  A pause can help us pull back, reset our direction, keep us from regret in a situation, and be more intentional and conscious in any outcome.

 

Not so much power from a pause

Pausing can be especially unnatural for those with ADHD. It’s hard to stop and transitions are difficult. After starting a task, hyperfocus can kick in with an intense period of focus. If you practice the Pomodoro Method, a short pause can be not so helpful in that getting back to work could be difficult.  During a pause you could get distracted and move onto a different, more interesting project or other diversion. A pause is not always the answer for productivity.

 

Pause for emotion regulation

A pause for emotional regulation can help you be your best self.  With a pause, you can identify the emotion you are feeling and choose your response to that feeling. The pause gives you time for awareness and the opportunity to act with a desired emotion and action accordingly. When emotions are ramping up, pay attention and name that emotion. Naming an emotion can be the pause itself.

 

Pause for impulsivity

Creating a break before acting impulsively can prevent regret. Impulsive actions often lead to negative consequences. Use your intuition and self-talk  to create awareness of your impulsivity. Do you remember a time that a pause would have prevented a situation? Inserting a moment to remember a consequence can create an improved response and decision.

 

Pause for processing

Information comes at us quickly, from many sources, at a rate we may need to pause to understand all that is being shared. Having time to process information helps us better understand and more fully integrate information for us to learn.

 

Pause for communication

Active listening helps us communicate effectively.  That is to listening and then repeating back what we hear in a positive way with a partner or colleague to insure we and they are heard. As often as we or our partner feel that they have not been heard, this pause for communication is a powerful positive connection. Give yourself and your partner ample time in your pause. It will help the flow of conversation and engagement.

 

When you use the power of the pause consistently, you are not only using the tool to help with challenges of ADHD.   You are moving forward with emotional intelligence, consistent responses and improved communication.

 

4 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    You really have me thinking about pausing this morning, Ellen! I typically think of all the “positives” of a pause that you listed here. For me, when I feel emotional, and am having a strong reaction, I really need to walk away and pause. This is hard for me. That emotional “rush” makes me want to take action. As you say, that impulsivity can lead to regrets for sure.

    I do think you are so right about the ADHD brain. This came up in a time management seminar I attended last week with Harold Taylor, hosted by Faithful Organizers. The question was, when using time blocking, what if you are on a roll? Should you stick to the schedule and the programmed pause, or keep going? The general answer was, if you can keep going and feel like doing so, then go ahead. Don’t “inflict” a pause when won’t be helpful, but welcome one when it will be beneficial!

  2. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    As we breathe, there is a natural slight pause after the inhale and again after the exhale. Sometimes when I’m in yoga class, our teacher encourages us to practice having a smooth, quiet, uninterrupted breath with no pause after the inhale and exhale. It’s not sustainable to do it all the time or for long periods, but it is something interesting to practice.

    Based on what you wrote, you make the case how the pause is often beneficial, but not always. So in life, as in our breath practice, the pause is an excellent tool to be aware of and use or NOT use depending upon the situation.

  3. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    @Linda, our breathing is a great way to pause. Especially in the moment, a deep breathe in can help us reframe too with more energy and focus. Thank you!

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